Friday, May 25, 2018
The first man on the moon held an American flag. In the not-too-distant future, astronauts on the moon may be holding fuel pumps.
The future for American commercial space activity is bright. Space entrepreneurs are already planning travel to Mars, and they are looking to the moon as the perfect location for a way station to refuel and restock Mars-bound rockets. As much as this sounds like the plot of “2001: A Space Odyssey,” it is coming closer to reality sooner than you may have ever thought possible.
A privately funded American space industry is the reason. This industry is making progress in leaps and bounds. The global space economy is approaching $350 billion and is expected to become a multitrillion-dollar industry. There are more than 800 operational American satellites in orbit, and by 2024 that number could exceed 15,000. Thanks to public-private partnerships, for the first time in seven years American rockets will soon carry NASA astronauts into space. Long dormant, Cape Canaveral is now bustling with activity. America is leading in space once again.
Space tourism may only be a year away. Tickets for human flights into lower earth orbit have already sold for $250,000 each. Earth-based mining companies may soon face stiff competition from the mining of gold, silver, platinum and rare earths on asteroids and even other planets. A race is already developing to create the technology that will bring those crucial resources back to earth.
Competition is already fierce, with Russia and China challenging the United States for leadership, and about 70 other countries working their way into space. But today’s space race is different. It is driven by innovative companies that are finding new solutions to get to space faster, cheaper and more effectively.
As these companies advance new ideas for space commerce and nontraditional approaches to space travel, they seek the legitimacy and stability that comes with government support and approval. They yearn for a government that acts as a facilitator, not just a regulator. Government must create frameworks that enable, rather than stifle, industry.
On Thursday, President Trump signed Space Policy Directive 2, which will make important strides toward modernizing our outdated space policies.
continued at https://www.commerce.gov/news/op-eds/2018/05/op-ed-moon-colony-will-be-reality-sooner-you-think
Swedish hospital on lockdown after report of suspected Ebola case
A man is being treated in isolation in Sweden’s Uppsala University Hospital, after returning from a trip to Africa vomiting blood. Hospital authorities are concerned that the patient may have Ebola.
The man was transferred to an infection clinic in the Uppsala hospital on Friday, after checking himself into a hospital in nearby Enkoping several hours earlier. The hospital in Enkoping shut down its emergency room and monitored its staff after the patient displayed symptoms of Ebola.
Doctors in the Uppsala hospital are now awaiting test results to see if their worst suspicions are confirmed. For now though, they remain cautiously optimistic.
“Other diseases are quite possible,” said a statement from medical authorities there.
The man had returned from a trip to the east African country of Burundi several weeks ago. While Burundi is currently not a risk area for the disease, neighboring Democratic Republic of the Congo has been grappling with an Ebola outbreak since last summer.
The vast majority of Ebola cases occur in Africa. An outbreak in west Africa between 2014 and 2016 killed an estimated 11,325 people, according to the World Health Organization. Only three confirmed cases were reported in Europe in that time. All three patients were hospitalized and none died.
The highly contagious Ebola virus causes a violent hemorrhagic fever, accompanied by vomiting, diarrhea, internal and external bleeding. The virus kills roughly half of those it infects, with better hospital care dramatically increasing patients’ chances of survival.
Canada charity used donations to fund Israel army bases
A Canadian charity has been investigated for using its donations to fund infrastructure projects on Israeli army and naval bases.
The Jewish National Fund of Canada – an affiliate of parent organisation Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael or the Jewish National Fund (KKL-JNF) – used its donations to fund infrastructure projects on Israeli army, air and naval bases, in contravention of Canadian law.
The revelation came as JNF Canada was subjected to an audit by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), a federal agency that administers tax laws for the Canadian government, after a Canadian researcher filed a complaint about the charity’s spending. According to local news site CBC:
While no law bars a Canadian citizen from writing a cheque directly to Israel’s Ministry of Defence, rules do ban tax-exempt charities from issuing tax receipts for such donations, and also ban donors from claiming tax deductions for them.
CBC further explains that: “In its guide for Canadian registered charities carrying out activities outside Canada, the CRA states plainly that ‘increasing the effectiveness and efficiency of Canada’s armed forces is charitable, but supporting the armed forces of another country is not’.”
Though JNF Canada claims it stopped funding such projects in 2016, CBC points out that this would not stop the Canada Revenue Agency from taking action against the charity for funding projects in contravention of these clearly-stated guidelines.
Ex-Credit Suisse bankers arrested on US charges over $2bn fraud scheme
Three former bankers of the second-largest bank in Switzerland, Credit Suisse Group AG, were arrested in London over an alleged connection to a $2bn Mozambique fraud scheme, according to US justice authorities cited by media.
The three suspects – former managing directors Andrew Pears and Surjan Singh, as well as the vice president in the global financing unit, Detelina Subeva – were charged with conspiring to violate US anti-bribery law, money laundering, and securities fraud in an indictment issued in a federal court in Brooklyn, New York, Reuters reported.
The three men were released on bail after their arrest in the British capital on Thursday but may face extradition to the US.
The bank itself was spared of the charges and says it was kept in the dark by its own staff.
“The indictment alleges that the former employees worked to defeat the bank’s internal controls, acted out of a motive of personal profit, and sought to hide these activities from the bank,” Credit Suisse said in a statement.
The arrests of the three former Credit Suisse employees came less than a week after the former finance minister of Mozambique was arrested in South Africa as part of the same case. Manuel Chang is now fighting extradition to the US. A fifth suspect was also arrested earlier this week.
Between 2013 and 2016, Credit Suisse and other banks arranged $2 billion loans for Mozambique state-owned companies. The loans were initially aimed at maritime projects and coastline protection in one of the poorest countries in the world, but instead were plundered, with at least $200 million diverted for bribes and kickbacks. The companies created to operate planned maritime projects were a cover for the suspects to enrich themselves.
The loans were partly concealed from international donors and creditors, including the International Monetary Fund. After they were disclosed in 2016, international aid was withdrawn, sending the nation into crisis. The state-owned companies missed more than $700 million in loan payments after defaulting in 2016 and 2017, according to the indictment.
A similar case has recently been brought against Wall Street giant Goldman Sachs. In December, Malaysia filed criminal charges against the US bank and two of its key bankers over its role in the multi-billion dollar scandal with 1MDB state fund. Kuala Lumpur wants $7.5 billion in reparations from Goldman Sachs, which it claims covered up the looting of the fund.
Hungary Bans Gender Studies…Not An Academic Subject
We really are coming to a crossroads in higher ed. A few decades ago, the possibility that a whole department, based on an entire academic subject, would be tossed as “not useful knowledge” would be considered inconceivable.
But today, in the United States, this sort of thing is common. Shakespeare is being tossed in exchange for a lesbian author. Computer science departments are being shut down, leading to a shortage of computer scientists where the world really needs people who understand computers. Even mathematics is turning into a boiler room operation on many campuses, focusing on passing students over academics.
With all the academics being removed from campus, what to replace it with? Many campuses are throwing in ever more Education courses, knowing they are frauds any student can ace without effort. We know they are frauds because they’re not quite politically protected: we can inspect what goes on in their classes, and since their graduates often go off to teach, we can judge the quality of the coursework by the quality of the graduates, for the most part.
Another new branch of “academic” courses has been affecting our campuses, Gender Studies, and unlike Education, these courses are becoming mandatory. Now, the graduates of these fields aren’t nearly so vulnerable as in Education, and so it’s not so easy to criticize their uselessness by examining how they succeed in the (non-existent) job market. Across the country, these courses, despite their clear lack of educational value, are springing up, detracting from the education our students receive.
Well, across THIS country, yes, but it’s clear not every country is subjecting itself to this madness:
Hungary To Remove Gender Studies From Universities, Says Courses Based On 'Ideology Rather Than Science'
The U.S. press, in its war against Trump, is pushing an illegal and unconstitutional invasion of Syria whose stated primary objective is to remove a terrorist organization which is already mostly gone – and a less frequently acknowledged goal of regime change for the legitimate government in Damascus and the expulsion of that government’s principal allies… there is no way to “win” and no exit strategy.
That anyone would regard Boot and Nuland as objective authorities on the Middle East given their ultimate and prevailing loyalty to Israel has to be wondered at…
By Philip Giraldi, reposted from Unz Review
President Donald Trump’s order to withdraw from Syria has been greeted, predictably, with an avalanche of condemnation culminating in last Thursday’s resignation by Defense Secretary James Mattis. The Mattis resignation letter focused on the betrayal of allies, though it was inevitably light on details, suggesting that the Marine Corps General was having some difficulty in discerning that American interests might be somewhat different than those of feckless and faux allies like Israel and Saudi Arabia that are adept at manipulating the levers of power in Washington and in the media. Mattis clearly appreciates that having allies is a force multiplier in wartime but fails to understand that it is a liability otherwise as the allies create an obligation to go to war on their behalf rather than in response to any actual national interest.
The media was quick to line up behind Mattis. On Friday, The New York Times featured a lead editorial entitled “Jim Mattis was right” while neocon twitter accounts blazed with indignation. Prominent chickenhawk mouthpieces David Frum and Bill Kristol, among many others, tweeted that the end is nigh.
During the day preceding Mattis’s dramatic announcement, the press went to war against the Administration over Syria and also regarding other reports that there would be troop reductions in Afghanistan. The following headline actually appeared on a Reuters online article the day after the announcement by the president: “In Syria retreat, Trump rebuffs top advisers and blindsides U.S. commanders.” It would be difficult to imagine stuffing more bullshit into one relatively short sentence. “Retreat,” “rebuffs” and “blindsides” are not words that are intended to convey any sort of even-handed assessment of what is occurring in U.S. policy towards the Middle East. They are instead meant to imply that “Hey, that moron in the White House has screwed up again!”
Four-year Senate investigation finds US Marshals Service plagued with corruption
Wasteful spending. Favoritism and nepotism. Sexual harassment. These were a few of the findings of a four-year Senate investigation into the U.S. Marshals Service, which concluded Thursday. A newly released report has revealed the Justice Department agency was rife with misconduct and abuse of authority, and at high levels. The Senate Judiciary Committee's report, that included more than 100 interviews with current and former agency employees, details a long list of serious offenses that touched every part of internal affairs.
Those offenses include "wasteful spending on lavish office furnishings, contracts and costly, but rarely-used facilities; inappropriate hiring practices, such as favoritism and nepotism; the use of subordinates to fill out applications for senior executive service positions; and the use of paid and unpaid leave to allow for full retirement benefits of individuals facing substantiated claims of misconduct," according to the memo. Officials also failed to adequately punish people, including sexual harassment, prostitute solicitations, and in one case in which an employee forged a judge's signature on hundreds of subpoenas.
Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said Thursday the initial concerns that triggered the investigation were "only the tip of the iceberg.""As our investigation progressed, we found a culture of mismanagement, abuse of authority and lax accountability that started clear at the top and has set a terrible standard for other employees across the agency. Poor leadership and pervasive misconduct cripples morale and corrodes trust of employees tasked with apprehending criminals and keeping communities safe. This culture must change," Grassley said in a statement.
In addition, some employees who spoke with Senate investigators lied and whistleblowers were punished for speaking up when rules were broken. Grassley's committee said new leadership that came in during the investigation has begun to turn around that culture, but he also made recommendations for additional reforms. Those changes include implementing better training for how to report concerns, improving how employees are paid when going through misconduct investigations, and improving oversight cooperation with Congress.
Another: Trump ignoring Tel Aviv’s demands about Syria: Israeli report
US President Donald Trump’s recent statements about Syria have alarmed Israeli officials and intelligence services, according to an Israeli report.
"It’s unfortunate that he isn’t paying attention to the evidence provided by the intelligence services," said an unnamed senior Israeli official speaking to the Israeli Ynet news website on Thursday.
"We are in a state of shock."
The statement was made in response to Trump’s earlier remarks, which some Israeli media outlets described as an American “policy change” on Syria.
“Iran is pulling people out of Syria, but they can frankly do whatever they want there,” said Trump.
Trump's decision to withdraw American troops from Syria seems to contrast with the president's own policy statements made earlier this year.
Speaking to the Washington Post in November, Trump stressed that protecting Israel was a reason why US forces were deployed in the Middle East. “We have reached a point where we don’t have to stay in the Middle East," said Trump before adding that "one reason to stay is Israel.”
Mark Zuckerberg halts his pre-planned sale of billions of dollars worth of Facebook shares as the stock price of the social networking site plummets
Mark Zuckerberg didn't sell a single share during the fourth quarter of 2018
He pledged to unload 35-75 million shares between September 2017 and March 2018 as part of a promise to give away most of his fortune during his lifetime
With three months to go, he's sold about 30.4m shares, worth about $5.6b
Facebook shares dipped by 20 percent amid a market slump, in general
The site's stock is down a total of 39 percent from its record high of $218.62
Its stock prices were at $132.80 at around 12.30pm Eastern on Thursday
Zuckerberg's net worth was down by $32.7b as of market close on Wednesday
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has stopped selling shares of the company after a nosedive in stock prices in the fourth quarter of 2018.
Zuckerberg had sold $5.6 billion of his stake in the social networking site since Q4 of 2017, after a pledge to do so to fund his charitable endeavors.
But that stopped abruptly, with the technology entrepreneur not parting ways with a single share in the final months of the year, as shares dipped by 20 percent amid a market slump, in general, Bloomberg reported on Thursday.
Facebook shares have dropped a total of 39 percent to date from their record high of $218.62 on July 25, with stock prices at $132.80 at around 12.30pm Eastern on Thursday.
John Kerry’s family in legal battle to keep walls around lavish French villa, concerned about terrorism
The latest news out of France suggests that open borders advocate John Kerry, a longtime Democrat politician who served as secretary of state from 2013 to 2017, believes using walls to protect people from potential harm is only acceptable when those walls are erected around properties he owns.
Properties like the lavish home Kerry’s family owns in Saint-Briac-sur-Mer, an upscale beach resort and commune in northwestern France built for the veritable one percent.
According to an Agence France-Presse report, 90 years ago the grandfather of Kerry and his first cousin Brice Lalonde purchased the Essarts castle in Saint-Briac. It has remained in their family ever since but was reportedly rebuilt as a villa after Nazi soldiers destroyed it during World War II.
Now fast-forward to the present. AFP notes that Kerry himself “has regularly spent time at the estate, most recently joining his relatives to celebrate its 90th year in the family last July.”
Fed chief Powell says he won't resign if Trump asks
In a public interview at an economics conference, Powell said “no,” when asked if he would leave the Fed if Trump sought to replace him. The chairman also said he hadn’t received any direct communication from the president or White House, but stressed that the Fed would not be influenced by politics.
“People should know the Fed has a very strong culture around non political activity,” said Powell in a joint interview with his predecessors, Ben Bernanke and Janet Yellen.
“It’s very much in the DNA of anyone who has spent any time at the Fed.”
Tribunal Investigates Allegations of Forced Organ Harvesting in China
LONDON—An independent peoples’ tribunal is examining evidence claiming to show that the Chinese state is targeting innocent prisoners of conscience and forcibly carving out their internal organs for transplants and profit. Three days of public hearings began on Dec. 8 in the heart of London’s legal district, in which witnesses from across the globe gave their testimonies on the disturbing practice of forced organ harvesting. Chaired by Sir Geoffrey Nice QC, the people’s tribunal will, in his words, be looking at the evidence of forced organ harvesting in China afresh—with no assumptions. Further hearings are scheduled to take place early next year, followed by a report of the findings.
Emotional and Painful The atmosphere during the Dec. 8 hearing in Holborn was serious, and for some, emotional, and painful. Among the witnesses who testified to Sir Geoffrey and a panel of six experts, were three Chinese refugees who said they fled from persecution in China. All refugees spoke separately of being detained in China for their faith in Falun Gong, a spiritual discipline that has been brutally suppressed in China for over 19 years. Torture methods described by the refugees included electrocution, sexual harassment, forced feeding, and starvation.
But they all spoke of having physical examinations, too. Feng Hollis, who was arrested in 2005, said that at the time she wondered why she was given a medical test after being tortured in prison. In a press briefing before the hearings, Susie Hughes, executive director of the International Coalition to End Transplant Abuse in China (ETAC), said an increase in transplant activity in China coincided with the repression of Falun Gong. “During the 2000s, analysis of various sources of emerging evidence led to the conclusion that people who practiced Falun Gong were being killed to provide the organs fuelling China’s transplant boom,” she said.
Research from human rights lawyer David Matas, a witness on Dec. 8, has found that the number of transplants from voluntary donors and death-row prisoners is far from the total number of transplants taking place in China.
Amazing and sad how quick this whole thing was forgotten about.
Final Records Released by Police in Las Vegas Mass Shooting
LAS VEGAS—Police in Las Vegas said Jan. 3 they have finished releasing audio, video and written records about the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history 15 months ago during an open-air concert. The department said that after 34 releases of material since May, officials believe they have complied with a court order in a public records lawsuit about the Oct. 1, 2017, shooting. Plaintiffs included The Associated Press. “We don’t expect any further major releases of either video or documents,” the department said in a statement. “If documents are identified that have not previously been released, they will be made available.”
Fifty-eight people died, 869 were wounded or injured, and thousands were affected when a high-limit video poker player fired assault-style weapons equipped with rapid-fire devices from the Mandalay Bay resort into a crowd of 22,000 concertgoers across Las Vegas Boulevard. The material released until last week provided dramatic details about horror and heroism, but no insight about the motive of 64-year-old gunman Stephen Paddock. Authorities have said Paddock killed himself before police arrived. Investigators believe he acted alone with no broader conspiracy and no link to terrorism.
The records stemmed from video clips from nearly 1,200 officer body-worn cameras; more han 1,000 audio clips of 911 calls; about 2,100 pages of officer reports, witness statements and dispatch logs; and video from streetscape, rooftop, and helicopter vantage points. Transcribed statements from 18 of the hundreds of officers who responded to the shooting were made public last week. The material came with little department comment or explanation and no narrative thread.
Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo released an investigation summary and declared the police investigation ended in August, saying frenzied reports of other shootings on the night of the massacre turned out to be false. The FBI is expected to soon release a report including a behavioral analysis of Paddock.
California to Remove Up to 1.5 Million Inactive Voters From Registration Rolls to Settle Lawsuit
The State of California and Los Angeles County agreed to remove up to 1.5 million inactive voters from voter rolls Dec. 3 in order to settle a federal lawsuit brought by a watchdog group. The settlement agreement (pdf), filed Dec. 3 with U.S. District Court Judge Manuel Real, requires the state and the county to notify all of the 1.5 million potentially ineligible voters and remove them from voter rolls if there is no response.
The National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) requires states to remove inactive registrations from voter rolls after two general federal elections. Most inactive registrations belong to voters who have moved to another county or state or have passed away, according to Judicial Watch. As part of the settlement, California Secretary of State Alex Padilla agreed to update the state’s NVRA manuals and to notify election officials in each county that they are obligated to regularly clean up voter rolls.
The lawsuit revealed that Los Angeles has the highest number of inactive registrations of any county in the nation, with one in every five registrations being inactive. “This settlement vindicates Judicial Watch’s groundbreaking lawsuits to clean up state voter rolls to help ensure cleaner elections,” Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said in a statement. “Judicial Watch and its clients are thrilled with this historic settlement that will clean up election rolls in Los Angeles County and California—and set a nationwide precedent to ensure that states take reasonable steps to ensure that dead and other ineligible voters are removed from the rolls.”
Judicial Watch settled similar statewide challenges in Ohio and Kentucky in 2014 and 2018 respectively. The watchdog also forced the state of Indiana to voluntarily clean up voter rolls and is engaged in an ongoing lawsuit with the State of Maryland.
Judicial Watch alleged in a 2017 lawsuit that Los Angeles County has a registration rate of 112 percent of its age-eligible citizens. The watchdog group alleged, using data published by the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, that 11 of California’s 58 counties had registration rates exceeding 100 percent of age-eligible citizens. California, the most populous state in the union, has a registration rate of approximately 101 percent of age-eligible citizens, the lawsuit alleged. The California lawsuit revealed that Los Angeles County has not cleaned up its voter rolls for the past 20 years, despite a Supreme Court ruling (pdf) last year making such purges mandatory.With 10 million residents, Los Angeles County has a bigger population than 41 of 50 U.S. states.
Sinking US aircraft carriers will resolve tension in South China Sea, says Chinese admiral
The deputy head of a Chinese military academy told an audience in Shenzhen last month that tensions in the South China Sea could be resolved by sinking a pair of U.S. aircraft carriers, reports said.
"What the United States fears the most is taking casualties," said Rear Admiral Lou Yuan, deputy head of the Chinese Academy of Military Sciences, news.com.au reported. He said sinking one carrier would kill 5,000 and sinking two would double that number.
Brad Glosserman, a China expert and professor at Tokyo’s Tama University, said Lou’s comments reflect a growing belief in China that the United States has lost its stomach for war, according to a report from military.com.
The Chinese believe that "Americans have gone soft … [they] no longer have an appetite for sacrifice and at the first sign of genuine trouble they will cut and run," Glosserman said.
In his speech, Loui said there were "five cornerstones of the United States" open to exploitation: their military, their money, their talent, their voting system – and their fear of adversaries, according to the news.com.au report.
Texas indicts ‘3D gun guy’ Cody Wilson for child sexual assault…faces 20 years in prison
In Texas, ‘3D gun’ guy Cody Wilson has been indicted on multiple counts of sexual assault against a minor.
Wilson rose to national attention as a self-styled advocate of 3D-printed guns, with the entities “Ghost Gunner Inc” and “Defense Distributed.”
He faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted, plus fines.
The charges involve a female “child younger than 17 years of age” whom he is said to have solicited through the website SugarDaddyMeet.com.
From reporting by Nathan Matisse at Ars Technica, who has been following the case in Austin, Texas:
More than three months have passed since a warrant (PDF) initially went out for Defense Distributed founder Cody Wilson’s arrest. That document detailed Wilson’s alleged sexual assault against a female “child younger than 17 years of age” whom he reportedly solicited through the website SugarDaddyMeet.com. Last Friday, December 28, the State of Texas finally formally indicted (PDF) Wilson. The 3D printed gun advocate now faces multiple charges: four counts of sexual assault of a child, two charges of indecency with a child by contact, and two charges of indecency with a child by exposure.
These charges are all second-degree felonies punishable by up to 20 years in prison and fines of up to $10,000.
Wilson’s two previously scheduled initial court appearances in November and December had each been pushed back, as often happens in cases still waiting on a formal indictment. This recent filing may make it more likely that the newest tentative date (scheduled for early February) will occur, meaning Wilson’s team would need to finally appear at the Travis County Courthouse.
Today, Wilson is a relatively free man at home, out of jail on a $150,000 bond.
Three more officials resign from Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg, Fla.
Three more officials have resigned from Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg, Fla., in the wake of a yearlong investigation by the Tampa Bay Times, according to a statement from Johns Hopkins Medicine on Wednesday.
The officials are Dr. Brigitta Mueller, chief patient safety officer and vice president of medical affairs; Sylvia Ameen, vice president of marketing, communications and culture/physician engagement; and Dr. Gerhard Ziemer, director of the Heart Institute and chief of cardiovascular surgery. Hopkins said in a statement that Ziemer, appointed in August, is “not responsible for the current state of the program” but that “a fresh start is needed to ensure success for the program.”
Last month, three other high-ranking officials resigned: CEO Dr. Jonathan Ellen, Vice President Jackie Crain and deputy director Dr. Jeffrey Jacobs. Dr. Paul Colombani stepped down as chair of the department of surgery but will "continue in a clinical capacity."
The Heart Institute at All Children’s was dedicated to children with heart defects and had been working in recent years to grow in size and prestige, according to the hospital, which announced in 2010 that it would integrate into the Johns Hopkins Health System. (continued..)
Ecuador to audit Julian Assange’s asylum & citizenship as country eyes IMF bailout
Ecuador has begun a “Special Examination” of Julian Assange’s asylum and citizenship as it looks to the IMF for a bailout, the whistleblowing site reports, with conditions including handing over the WikiLeaks founder.
Former Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa tweeted an image of the letter he received from the State Comptroller General on December 19, which outlines the upcoming examination by the Direction National de Auditoria.
The audit will “determine whether the procedures for granting asylum and naturalization to Julian Assange were carried out in accordance with national and international law,” and will cover the period between January 1, 2012 and September 20, 2018.
Assange has been in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London since he sought asylum there in 2012. He was granted Ecuadorian citizenship last December in a bid to protect him from being extradited to the US where he fears he faces secret charges for publishing US government cables and documents.
Incoming House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) on Thursday led a group of Democrats in introducing a bill designed to protect special counsel Robert Mueller from being fired by President Trump.
The legislation reflects growing fears among the president’s critics that he could try to impede Mueller’s investigation into whether his campaign coordinated with Moscow to interfere in the 2016 presidential election. Trump has increasingly castigated the investigation as an “illegal” partisan-led witch hunt that he wants ended.
The bill, formally known as the Special Counsel Independence and Integrity Act, would codify existing Justice Department regulations that say a special counsel can only be removed for misconduct, dereliction of duty, incapacity, conflict of interest or other good cause. The legislation would also give the special counsel written notice of his or her removal and the opportunity to challenge the move in court.
It is unlikely, however, that the GOP-controlled Senate will take up the bill or a similar one. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) repeatedly blocked legislation protecting the special counsel from reaching the Senate floor late last year after Trump ousted Attorney General Jeff Sessions and replaced him with Matthew Whitaker, a Mueller critic, as acting attorney general.
McConnell has argued the bill is unnecessary because he doesn’t believe Trump will look to fire Mueller.
Nadler, along withe Reps. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) and Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.), introduced the legislation on the first day of the new Congress as Democrats took the helm of the House of Representatives.
In a joint statement, the lawmakers warned of the “questionable” intentions of Whitaker and described the legislation as crucial to ensuring the investigation continues unimpeded.
“As the Special Counsel announces new indictments and guilty pleas from Trump's closest allies and associates, it's clear that the threat to the Mueller investigation will only grow stronger,” the Democratic lawmakers said. “Democrats and Republicans in Congress have mentioned their support for the inquiry to continue unimpeded. Now is the time for Congress to finally act and pass this legislation to protect the integrity of the Special Counsel's investigation and the rule of law."
Nadler and other Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee introduced similar legislation back in April, following the federal raid on the office and hotel room of Michael Cohen, Trump’s former personal attorney. The bill had little chance of passing in the previous Congress, when Republicans had control over the House.
79. Trump Tweets (retwt: when do the trials begin graphic)
80. Nikki Haley 'we will remember this vote' UN.
81. Trump meets the Queen
82. Trump makes demands UN, pay your bills or we out.
83. End Iran deal
84. Trump calls out obama cash drop
85. Vets - Choice Law
86. Tl;dr but muh "envelopes"?
87. Memes reaching critical mass
88. It be happening, slowly steadily, we are winning, You can add all the lawsuits to protect our water, MI, NY and many other states against 3m and other companies.
89. Caravan busted as org by Soros
90. Nickelodeon (and many others) ratings pass CNN
91. Federal Grand Jury to hear Evidence of WTC Demolition
92. President Trump pardoned Dwight and Stephen Hammond, the Oregon ranchers whose imprisonment was the straw that broke the Patriot's back and led to the Bundy et all stand UP at the Malheur Refuge, which ended up with the MURDER of LaVoy Finicum.
93. Monsanto/Bayer getting sued and losing massive settlement in one case with 100's pending and stock losing almost 50% of its share price. Thought by merging with Bayer it would save them now both Nazi companies are going down.
94. US hostages released (NK and Turkey)
95. POTUS calls big pharma to tell them to drop prices. They immediately do.
96. Legalized Hemp through the Farm Act.
97. Signed millions of dollars for ocean cleanup.
98. Trump orders US troops out of Syria, declares victory over ISIS
99. Senate now doing Confirmations of appointees for POTUS!
China Is Hunting for Foreign Buyers for Its Sovereign Debt
(Bloomberg Businessweek) – Spooked by a massive exodus of Chinese capital in 2015, the country’s policymakers hit on a plan to alleviate pressures on their currency. They could attract foreign cash—and boost demand for the yuan—by opening the doors to fixed income investors. Big overseas funds are always looking for ways to diversify and would likely want some exposure to China’s bond market, the third-largest in the world.
Money poured in, and inflows accelerated after China set up a channel called Bond Connect for foreigners to trade through Hong Kong in July 2017. But overseas funds started pulling money out in late 2018. They’ve cooled on a market that in some ways is proving its worth as a diversification play. China’s government bonds were among the world’s best performers in 2018, returning 7.7 percent, while U.S. Treasuries earned 0.8 percent, ICE Bank of America Merrill Lynch data show. That gain is in yuan terms, however, and the yuan dropped 5.4 percent against the U.S. dollar.
Greater access to China’s markets hasn’t been enough to overcome geopolitical worries. The U.S.-China trade war has hurt the yuan and may also be giving foreigners pause before they add to their Chinese bond holdings, market watchers say. U.S.-based investors trimmed their participation in the country’s dollar-denominated sovereign bond sale in October. They accounted for only 2 percent of the five-year notes China issued, down from 20 percent in 2017. And China’s biggest bank, Industrial & Commercial Bank of China Ltd., canceled a dollar bond sale in the U.S. in November. China’s policymakers will keep trying to attract bond investors, and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. anticipates a fresh campaign by China to promote its currency. Part of this involves overhauling regulations to win inclusion for Chinese bonds in global bond indexes. A key milestone may come in April: That’s when China debt will start to be included in the Bloomberg Barclays Global Aggregate Index, assuming certain criteria for accessibility and transparency are met. (Bloomberg LP, which administers the index, is also the publisher of Bloomberg Businessweek.) There’s room for demand to grow: The main non-Chinese buyers of the bonds so far have been sovereign wealth funds and central banks, with “very few” nonofficial asset managers getting in, according to Morgan Stanley.
“Capital inflows, especially those into the bond market, will be very crucial for China’s balance of payments, as the current account will deteriorate further amid the trade war and the restructuring of the economy,” says Becky Liu, head of China macro strategy at Standard Chartered Plc in Hong Kong. China’s trade surpluses are subsiding, and some economists even expect the country in coming years to shift to sustained current account deficits. If China’s bond market receives waves of overseas cash, that will help finance the deficits without running up a dangerous amount of debt in foreign currency.
Estimates on inflows in coming years vary widely, from about $760 billion over the long term at Morgan Stanley to Goldman’s $1 trillion by the end of 2022 to $3 trillion through 2020 at UBS Asset Management. Jason Pang, a fixed income portfolio manager at JPMorgan Asset Management in Hong Kong, says his company has been boosting China holdings in recent months. “Whether we will add more,” he says, “depends on the trade war."
Exercise increased caution in China due to arbitrary enforcement of local laws as well as special restrictions on dual U.S.-Chinese nationals.
Chinese authorities have asserted broad authority to prohibit U.S. citizens from leaving China by using ‘exit bans,’ sometimes keeping U.S. citizens in China for years. China uses exit bans coercively: to compel U.S. citizens to participate in Chinese government investigations, to lure individuals back to China from abroad, and to aid Chinese authorities in resolving civil disputes in favor of Chinese parties.
In most cases, U.S. citizens only become aware of the exit ban when they attempt to depart China, and there is no method to find out how long the ban may continue. U.S. citizens under exit bans have been harassed and threatened.
U.S. citizens may be detained without access to U.S. consular services or information about their alleged crime. U.S. citizens may be subjected to prolonged interrogations and extended detention for reasons related to “state security.” Security personnel may detain and/or deport U.S. citizens for sending private electronic messages critical of the Chinese government.
Extra security measures, such as security checks and increased levels of police presence, are common in the Xinjiang Uighur and Tibet Autonomous Regions. Authorities may impose curfews and travel restrictions on short notice.
China does not recognize dual nationality. U.S.-Chinese citizens and U.S. citizens of Chinese heritage may be subject to additional scrutiny and harassment, and China may prevent the U.S. Embassy from providing consular services.
Read the Safety and Security section on the country information page.
If you decide to travel to China:
Enter China on your U.S. passport with a valid Chinese visa and keep it with you.
If you are arrested or detained, ask police or prison officials to notify the U.S. Embassy or the nearest consulate immediately.
If you plan to enter North Korea, read the North Korea Travel Advisory.
Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive Alerts and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.
Follow the Department of State on Facebook and Twitter. Follow the U.S. Embassy on Twitter, WeChat, and Weibo.
Review the Crime and Safety Reports for China.
U.S. citizens who travel abroad should always have a contingency plan for emergency situations. Review the Traveler’s Checklist.